Medical Student Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Regarding Immunization

Deeva Berera and Kimberly M Thompson

Physician knowledge and support of vaccines greatly influence patient decisions to get vaccinated, and medical schools can cultivate vaccination knowledge and positive attitudes towards vaccines. We sought to establish a baseline of medical student knowledge, attitudes, and practices about vaccines to identify knowledge gaps, characterize common themes in student beliefs, and determine the need for vaccination education interventions. We administered a survey questionnaire, designed to assess medical student knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards vaccination to second, third, and fourth year medical students at the University of Central Florida, College of Medicine. We surveyed the students within the first two weeks of the start of their respective academic years. We found that student knowledge levels correlated significantly with year and experience delivering immunizations . We estimated mean knowledge scores for second, third, and fourth year students of 55% (SD 13), 65% (SD 13), and 74% (SD 10), respectively. Students expressed positive and supportive attitudes and practices towards vaccination. Our results show low confidence in patient and personal education regarding vaccines, with 40% of students reporting feeling comfortable answering questions from patients or parents about vaccines, and 29% reporting their receipt of adequate vaccination education in medical school. This study provides a foundation to initiate the development of comprehensive vaccination education for medical students. Further studies should expand the survey to other medical institutions to inform the creation of immunization competencies for all US medical students and develop an educational intervention to address the knowledge gaps we identified.